top of page
Henry Rider 2 Finished.jpg

Chapter Eleven

Don't ask me how I managed to smuggle an unconscious sasquatch onto the IW and drag his metric-ton-weighing butt home without anyone seeing, because there are some things that are just better left unsaid.

 

I will say that I burned my clothes and took a three hour long shower as soon as we got home, though.

 

Exhausted, I collapsed into bed despite it not even being eight o'clock. I know I'd said that McGus was the only one who could get through Ethan's thick skull, but I hadn't meant it literally! I'd imagined the two of them sitting down, McGus busting out some of that scathing criticism he'd spent the last three years slathering on me like acidic jelly on a slice of toast with low self-esteem, and Ethan going home thoroughly shamed out of this whole stupid idea.

 

“You're the Acting Hunter, Henry!” I mimicked him in a high pitched voice. “You need to start being more responsible, nyeh nyeh nyah nyah, and my butt smells like cabbages!”

 

Now I had a comatose bigfoot in the next room over, sprawled out on a bed that was about twenty sizes too small for him, and no plan to make sure he didn't choose to stay that way.

 

Tired…so freaking tired…and yet, I was so worried about all of this that I doubted I would sleep a wink toni—

 

"Henry? Wake up!"

 

I opened my eyes, vision blurry, and blinked until my digital clock came into focus. 5:45? That was just fifteen minutes before Ethan and I were supposed to get up and get ready for school.

 

And speak of the devil, I rolled over and found Ethan standing beside my bed. Normally that would have creeped me out enough to give him a facefull of Splatsy for breakfast, but the fact that it was Ethan—the real Ethan—made me so happy that I could have jumped up and kissed him.

 

Not that I didn’t normally want to, but you know what I mean.

 

"You're back to normal!" I exclaimed. "Does that mean—"

 

He nodded. "I decided I didn't want to stay a sasquatch. Did…" He paused, and his face turned red with embarrassment. "Did I really do all that yesterday?"

 

"Yeah," I said, nodding back. "You were out of control."

 

"It's like it was me, but…not me. Does that make sense?"

 

"Not in the slightest."

 

He shook his head. "I don't know how to describe it. I was there, in my own head, making all those decisions. Everything I did made perfect sense while I was doing it. It wasn't until I woke up that I realized how…" He closed his eyes and shuddered. "I don't want who I was yesterday to become the real me."

 

I sat up and took his hand in mine. "Ethan, It's all right. The important thing is that you've decided to stay human."

 

He frowned. "I didn't say that."

 

I looked at him for a few seconds. "What?"

 

Taking his hand from mine, he reached into his pocket—and pulled out a second pill.

 

"Oh, come on!' I yelled, rolling out of bed to stand in front of him. "Did you learn nothing from yesterday?"

 

"Yes," he said defensively. "I just said—"

 

"And yet here you are, about to do it again like a jelly donuting idiot!"

 

He looked at the pill, his eyes betraying a hint of nervousness. "Well…it's not like I'll turn into another sasquatch, right?"

 

"Do you have any idea what you will turn into?"

 

He didn't answer.

 

"Exactly," I went on. "What if you turn into a, I don't know, a kraken or something? We got lucky yesterday, but how am I going to hide a freaking kraken at school? Con needs to take them because of…"

 

I bit my tongue before I could finish that sentence. Ethan raised an eyebrow, but I had already said too much.

 

"I need it too," he finally said, his voice soft, his expression vulnerable.

 

"Why?" I demanded.

 

Again, he didn't answer, and for a long moment, we just stared at each other. This whole stupid argument was opening up a rift between us, I realized. And the more I tried to pull him away from what he wanted to do, the wider that rift became.

 

If you keep this up, the annoying voice in my head said, you might lose him forever.

 

But if you don't, argued the more logical, but just as annoying voice, who knows what will happen to him?

 

"Ethan," I said slowly, "you need to think hard about this."

 

"I have been thinking."

 

I shook my head. "No, you—

 

"No?" he snapped. "How can you say no? Can you read my mind now, Henry?"

 

"That isn't what I meant!"

 

"Oh, I know that's not what you meant," he shot back. "What you meant was that it doesn't matter what I think if I don't come to the conclusion you want me to!"

 

My cheeks flushed blue with anger. "Ethan, stop it! That's not true and you know it!"

 

He glared at me for a few seconds, and then he looked away with shame in his eyes.

 

"I know," he whispered, all that anger leaking away.

 

I took a tentative step toward him. "I'm your friend, Ethan. I'm just trying to keep you safe from things you don't understand. And you don't understand this."

 

"Maybe I don't," he said, looking down at the pill in his hand.

 

"So just give me that, and we—"

 

"But I still have to do it!"

 

Before his words could register in my brain, he had popped the pill into his mouth, leaned his head back, and swallowed.

 

We both froze.

 

"Broccoli shortcake!" I cursed. "Ethan, you complete and utter pupusa!”

 

But he wasn't listening to me anymore. He was staring down at himself, an apprehensive look on his face. I held my breath as the possibilities flashed through my mind, each more gruesome and horrible than the next.

 

What if he turns into something huge? I thought, terrified. What if he destroys the whole house? Or sets it on fire, or—

 

"I think," he said, looking up at me, "this one might be a dud."

 

Then he vanished.

 

"Ethan!" I yelled as his clothes collapsed in a heap on my floor. I fell to my knees, grabbing his shirt and flinging it aside. "Ethan, where are you?"

 

I reached for his underwear next (Ethan still wears tighty whities, if you wanted to know) but paused when I realized how completely gross that would be. Luckily, a lump rose up in his left pant leg, tenting the fabric. Like a mouse tunneling through Ethan's PJs, it took a few steps one way, and then turned and went back the other.

 

"H- Henry?" a squeaky, but still familiar, voice asked. "Where am I?"

 

I sat down on my bed and breathed a sigh of relief. He was okay, and our house hadn't been krakenized! Positive thoughts, Henry. Positive thoughts!

 

"Henry?" Ethan asked again, his voice muffled by the cotton of his pajamas. "Are you still—"

 

I grabbed his pants and snapped them like a whip. With a shrill scream, something went flying out the pant leg and crashed into my bedroom wall with all the force of a kamikaze butterfly. It was tiny, less than four inches tall, and its skin was a light crystalline blue. A pair of dragonfly wings grew from its back, occasionally giving a spastic twitch.

 

"Ow!" it complained, peeling itself from the wall. Shaking its head, it turned to me. "What did you do…that…for?"

 

Ethan's tiny eyes widened as he looked up at me—and up, and up, and up. I towered over him, more than a hundred times his size. I could have swallowed him whole without even gagging.

 

And judging by the look on his face, he had realized that too.

 

"What happened?" he squeaked. "Why are you so big?"

 

His obvious terror brought giggles bubbling out of my stomach, and I grinned down at him.

 

"You didn't listen to me, that's what happened!" I said in triumph. "And I'm not bigger, Ethan. You shrank!"

 

For the first time, Ethan paused to look around. What had once been a normal bedroom was now the size of a four story hotel to him. The dirty sock that lay on the floor nearby was big enough for him to use as a tent. Then he looked down at himself, which was mostly unchanged—besides the fact that he looked like a blue raspberry slushie now—and he flexed his tiny hands. His mouth fell open in shock as the undeniable truth took hold in his feeble little mind: that he was the size of a freaking bug!

 

"Cool!" he exclaimed.

 

Custard and caviar!

 

"No, not cool!" I yelled, grabbing two big handfuls of my hair. "Ethan, look at yourself! I could step on you!"

 

He didn't look the least bit concerned. "Yeah, but you won't. Hey! I wonder if…"

 

He craned his head around to look at his wings. They twitched, and his eyes narrowed in concentration, his little purple tongue poking out of the corner of his mouth. It would have actually been adorable if I wasn't going to get boiled alive for this! Once, twice, his wings shook—and then they burst into constant, blurry motion. They sounded like the world's smallest lawn mower.

 

Ethan whooped as he shot up off the floor and into the air. Almost immediately, though, he veered off course and crashed into the wall again.

 

"There, you—" I began.

 

"No, no, I got this!" he insisted, and took off again. This time he managed to go straight up, more or less, and came to a stop to hover in front of my face. "See? I told you! Nothing to it!"

 

I blew on him, and he slammed into my wall a third time.

 

"Now are you ready to listen to Henry?" I reached down and plucked him off the floor by his wings.

 

"Ow! Quit it!" he complained, giving my fingers little ladybug punches. "Let me go!"

 

He punched me again—and this time a pop filled the air. A surge of electricity coursed through my hand, like the worst static shock I’d ever gotten, and I instinctively dropped him.

 

"That hurt!' I snapped, looking at my hand. The finger he'd zapped had a little burn on it now. "What the crap, Ethan?"

 

Ethan stood up and dusted himself off. "It was an accident. You deserved it, though!"

 

He looked at his hands again, and a pit formed in my stomach when two balls of crackling electricity flashed into existence above his palms. He looked up at me and grinned.

 

"Now this I could get used to!" he said.

 

"Do you really not see the problem here?" I asked, blood pressure rising. "You're smaller than my finger! The first time a hungry frog spots you, you'll be a midmorning snack!"

 

"No, I'm telling you, I can work with this!" he insisted. "Here, watch."

 

He took off again, and credit where credit is due, he had gotten the hang of flying pretty quick. Buzzing through the air, he flew a couple laps around me, and then landed on my shoulder. Giving me a triumphant look, he sat down.

 

"There, see? I can ride around with you like this, so we can still go everywhere together. And when you have to go fight maiams?" He made a finger gun. "Zap! Pow!"

 

"And how are you going to go to school?" I shot back.

 

He paused, then shrugged. "Fairies, pixies, whatever I am now…they don't need school."

 

I raised an eyebrow. "And you're okay with being naked all the time?"

 

Ethan gave me a sharp look. "With what? What are you talking ab—OH MY GOD, I'M NAKED!"

 

I couldn't help but laugh as he panicked, hopping to his feet and trying to cover himself with his tiny hands. He looked desperately down at his pile of clothes, as if anything in there would still fit him.

 

"Henry, help!" he begged me. "No, don't look at me! Just find me something to wear!"

 

"Oh, so now you want my help?"

 

"Henry!"

 

I rolled my eyes and stepped into the hallway, where I found Jade leaning against the wall, waiting for us.

 

"Thanks for the help back there," I snapped at her.

 

She looked away guiltily. "You know I can't do anything, Henry."

 

Grumbling under my breath, I grabbed the cord to the attic door and pulled it down. A ladder unfolded, and I climbed up into the musty old storage room. If I remembered right, what I was looking for should be right back here, behind the Christmas decorations and the…

 

"Bingo!" I whispered, pulling a box away from the others and opening it. Inside were my old toys, dusty and neglected. I'd stopped playing with them when McGus had made me his apprentice. I felt a pang of guilt, looking down at the childhood I'd abandoned. Then, pushing those feelings away, I reached in and felt around. After a few seconds, I pulled out a tiny doll. It was a couple inches bigger than Ethan, but its clothes would fit him well enough.

 

"Here," I said, stripping the white shirt and khaki pants off of it, "put these on."

 

He snatched them. "Don't look!"

 

"Dude, you were naked all day yesterday. What's the big deal?"

 

"Yesterday I had more hair than a woolly mammoth. Clothes would have been redundant."

 

"After the way you were prancing around in my room just now, you know I've already seen—" Zap! "—Ow!"

 

It took him a few minutes to get dressed, having to tear a couple holes in the shirt for his wings to fit through, but before long he had his little blue butt safely covered.

 

"Now," I said, sitting with my back to the old toy box, "what are we going to do with you?"

 

Ethan took to the air again, hovering beside my head, and shrugged. "What else? Let's get ready for school."

 

"Like that?"

 

"Why not? Just grab your old N.O.S.E. and—"

 

"IT'S BIGGER THAN YOU ARE!"

 

Ethan blinked. "Oh, right."

 

I groaned in exasperation. Once again, it came down to Henry to do all the thinking around here. There’s no way I was taking him to school like this. I began to think, running through all the excuses that had ever gotten me out of school. Stomach virus? Nah, Mom and Dad would want to see me throw up before they believed me. Bubonic plague? No, I'd used that one already this year. Maybe I could draw red spots on my face and convince them I'd caught chickenpox for the seventh—

 

"Maybe you should stay home," Jade spoke up.

 

I froze, then grabbed Ethan out of the air and slid back down the ladder, letting the door swing shut with Jade's nervous face staring down at me.

 

"You're not going to school just to spite me, are you?" she asked, reappearing beside me.

 

I ignored her and went downstairs, where Mom was in the kitchen, busily frying up pancakes.

 

"Morning," she greeted me, then raised an eyebrow. "What's that?"

 

She nodded toward my hand, and I realized with a jolt that I was still holding Ethan. Before he could say anything, I stuffed him into my pocket.

 

"Nothing! It's just…uh…"

 

I was saved from having to come up with a convincing lie when the front door opened and Con stumbled inside.

 

"Morning, everyone," he groaned, holding his head like he had the mother of all headaches. He pulled off his N.O.S.E., and his skin shimmered for a second before turning back to its natural klaony colors.

 

"Con!" I gasped as he made his way to the couch, having to keep one hand on the wall for balance. "You're practically gray! What happened?"

 

He glanced at me from the corner of his eye, but quickly looked away. "Nothing. Just had a long night."

 

I reached into my pocket. As soon as my fingers were close enough, Ethan shocked me, so I flicked him in the face. Pulling out my inhaler, I held it out to Con.

 

"Here, use this," I ordered him. "All of it!"

 

Con hesitated, then took it. He still wouldn't look at me, but when he raised the inhaler to his lips and pushed down on the button, color immediately began to spread through him again. He breathed a sigh of relief.

 

"Thanks, baby sis," he whispered with a hint of a smile on his lips. "Looks like you saved my life again."

 

"Were you out all night?" I asked as he finished off the inhaler. "What were you doing?"

 

Once it was empty, he dropped it on the floor, stretched—and promptly collapsed on the couch.

 

"Con?" I asked.

 

"Tired," he muttered. "Sleepy time now. Bye bye."

 

I hesitated. Something about this wasn't right. But judging by how loud he was snoring, I wasn't getting any answers until after school. Giving him one last nervous look, I left him to go get ready.

 

Something told me today was going to be even worse than yesterday.

bottom of page